Down & Under Pt15 – Start me up

We’re queuing for ponchos.

“No man should ever carry an umbrella.”

Says a spotty youth loudly and proudly in front of me. He obviously prefers the Mexican peasant look. The Melbourne Grand Prix workforce snakes around the corner and out of sight. We need rainwear, aprons and security passes. The recruitment drive has brought every recent high-school leaver out of the woodwork so I’d better switch vernacular to better blend in. Here goes…

The Grand Prix compound is like, you know like, really massive and if you were like mental enough to like walk from, you know, like, one end to the other, that would be like, you know, totally random! But, you know…whatever.

I doubt I can keep that up for a week.

An hour later I’m setting up the food and drinks service in a large marquee that runs alongside the racetrack. Some saloon cars screech past but this noise is a butterfly’s wing compared to what’s coming the rest of the week. Over the course of the morning I perfect the art of doing things slowly. This is how it works: you slow down, then you slow down some more then you take a little bit of pace off. And NEVER look your supervisor in the eye unless you actually want more work. I am becoming a lazy bastard, don’t EVER employ me. I can however fold a napkin in three different and exciting ways whilst humming show-tunes and I can count very quickly. Once this is noticed my meteoric rise to the top begins and stops fairly quickly when I’m appointed barman in one of the corporate tents. But hey, it’s better than collecting litter with a poncho on.

I have no interest in motor sports but like any major sporting event there’s an atmosphere to be soaked up. The highlight of my day is seeing a Delorean. Quick trip back to October the 21st 1955 anyone?

I’ve just put the finishing touches to my bar – MY bar! – when a head appears round the doorway.

“There’s food for the staff!”

So I head down to the kitchens keeping a low profile in case a certain head chef called Bob is there and decides to accidentally impale me on a large skewer. Sure enough, there’s Bob and the whole team from the Air-show kitchen looking as joyous and effervescent as ever. I feel lucky to have escaped their clutches. And then lo, before me appears, as was foretold by the messenger, the food, stacked up in platters just outside the kitchen door. Uniformed and poncho’d staff are hastily filling their apron pockets and improvised bags with chicken thighs and bulgar wheat salad.
We’re not allowed to use a plate or cutlery as that would incur extra washing up costs. Given the no expense spared, gold-plated nature of the Grand prix, this is beyond not valuing your staff – it’s plain insulting. They have reduced us to dogs at the backdoor, vying for scraps.

“Get outta here! you’re blocking the the place up!” shouts Bob.

I half expect him to throw a shoe at us. We retreat to the perimeter fence, sit on plastic bags on the grass and snaffle our booty while Bernie Eccleston leers at us from a billboard poster as he does in all corners of this outsized compound. The Emperor’s image is as inescapable as the smell of riches which is all pervasive and a constant reminder of the monumental waste of money that is Formula one. Current estimations put the money invested in F1 over the last two decades at the budgetary equivalent of a manned mission to Mars or that needed to eradicate hunger on the African continent once and for all. Bernie and his cohorts have instead opted to shave 3 seconds off the average lap time. Like, you know, nice one Bernie.

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